Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pitting Guns Against Privacy and Property Rights - The New Tennessee Waltz

Joe Citizen watches the news. He hears about acts of violence all over the country and decides it's time to take responsibility for his personal security. Joe wants to start carrying a handgun for security and self-defense. Joe is told that his state has several conditions which must be met before he is allowed to actually carry his weapon. Being a law-abiding citizen, Joe complies with those requirements by applying for a  concealed carry permit to legally carry his handgun.

Joe spends a few hundred dollars on classes and a handgun, and his application for a concealed carry permit. Joe meets all the requirements and qualifications for concealed carry and his state issues the permit. Joe then purchases a handgun, which he carries in a manner that complies with the terms of his permit.

A few weeks after Joe begins carrying, he gets a call from a friend who has seen Joe's name and address in the local newspaper. A reporter for the newspaper petitioned the state government for the names and addresses of concealed carry permit holders in the area, and published the information in an article and included a handy map showing the location of all the handgun owners in Joe's area.

Preposterous, you say? Never going to happen? Well, try again, because in December of last year it happened in New York State. Click here to read about a New York newspaper's abuse of the First Amendment to attack the Second Amendment rights of New York gun owners, then click here to read about the possibility of something similar happening in my home state of Tennessee.

Up to now, it has been standard practice at Eternal Vigilance to not offer commentary on state and local politics. I have sought to  always believed that raising awareness of serious issues of great importance to our nation was the best use of these resources. However, conservative Tennesseans are currently confronted by a purportedly conservative Republican, but increasingly activist (big government), majorities in both houses of Tennessee's legislature.

That activism is most clearly on display with their approach to "protecting" the Second Amendment rights of Tennessee gun owners. Rather than offer a full-throated endorsement the United States' Constitution and the right to keep and bear arms, they have, in fits of legislative whimsy, cherry-picked places where they think guns should be allowed - city parks, state parks, bars, car trunks in parking lots of  campuses, schools, and businesses, and then created new laws accordingly. I find this approach to be very limiting to Second Amendment rights, especially since Tennessee's lieutenant governor and reputed gun rights advocate, Ron Ramsey, is said to favor the abrogation of the private property rights of owners who choose, for a host of reasons, to restrict firearm possession in their place of business.

Unfortunately, that big-government power trip against private property rights is not the only issue of concern related to gun rights in Tennessee. As mentioned in another article linked above, Ramsey has come out in favor of  public media access to concealed carry permits in Tennessee. This is a wildly impractical and flawed idea, as the legislature would not only violate the privacy of, and potentially endanger Tennessee gun owners, but prompt a number of constitutional challenges by media outlets who fear their First Amendment rights might be infringed by the restrictions being discussed with the legislation.

The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says, clearly and simply, "A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed."

Where, in those 27 simple words, does the Tennessee legislature find the authority to waltz over the privacy and private property rights of its citizens?

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty - especially when a Republican legislature can't be trusted to do the right thing....